Arson Charges in Illinois

An individual who is charged with Arson in Illinois faces severe penalties. Arson is the intentional act of setting fire to real or personal property. There are three different types of Arson in Illinois, and each type carries with it a different penalty.

First, Illinois can charge an individual with regular arson under 720 ILCS 5/20-1(a), when that individual knowingly sets fire to real property or personal property that has a value of $150.00 or more, and the individual committing the arson did not receive consent from the owner to do so. An individual may also be charged under the statute when they are committing arson with the intent to defraud an insurer. This means that even if the individual is the sole owner of the property, he or she cannot set fire to the property if their intent is to defraud an insurance company. An individual charged under these provisions of the statute faces a Class 2 felony, with a potential sentence between three to seven years.

An individual can also be charged with Residential or Place of Worship Arson. A person commits residential arson when through the course of committing arson, they knowingly damage any residential dwelling place of another. Place of Worship Arson is when the individual knowingly damages any place of worship. Both Residential and Place of Worship Arson are charged as a Class 1 Felony, with a potential sentence between 4 to 15 years.

Aggravated arson is the most severe form of arson. It is charged as a Class X Felony in Illinois, and carries with it a mandatory minimum sentence of 6-30 years in the Department of Corrections. Probation is not possible for Class X felony offenses.

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An individual can be charged with aggravated arson when in the course of committing arson, they damage any building or structure, including any adjacent building or structure, and one of the following occurs: 1) s/he knows or reasonably should know that one or more persons are present in the structure; 2) any person suffers great bodily harm, or permanent disability or disfigurement; or 3) a firefighter or police officer who is present at the scene is injured in the line of duty as a result of the fire or explosion. It is easy for arson to turn into aggravated arson considering police officers and firefighters are the first on the scene and may easily be injured while extinguishing a fire. For the purposes of aggravated arson, school buildings, house trailers, watercrafts, motor vehicles and railroad cars are classified as buildings and structures.

Arson is a very serious crime, and carries with it harsh penalties. An individual who has been charged with arson should immediately contact an attorney. That attorney can help counsel the individual as to their legal options.